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Bok students paint No Place for Hate

An East Passyunk Crossing school’s students created art to honor a civil rights legend’s message.

By Joseph Myers
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 19, 2012

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PECO employee Ed McBride and Bok senior Boaz Parker, fifth and sixth from left respectively, helped other inspired attendees to make the holiday morning a respectful homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parker and more than a dozen of his schoolmates are constructing a piece that reflects their school’s diversity.

As a future political science major, Boaz Parker loves analyzing communities and addressing their flaws. Noticing a few shortcomings at Edward Bok High School, 1901 S. Ninth St., the senior gladly used Monday morning to strengthen his civic wisdom and broaden his artistic sensibilities.

Along with 14 schoolmates, he participated in the 17th annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, assisting with constructing a mural and applying paint to their cafeteria.

The West Philadelphian serves as the president of his East Passyunk Crossing school’s year-old Anti-Defamation League chapter that owes its existence to the nonprofit’s partnership with PECO, which brought more than 80 employees to make the host’s inaugural attempt to honor the activist a vibrant event.

“I thought it would be a great idea to coordinate this for us to achieve our common goal, the appreciation of diversity,” Parker said within a few feet of the sixth floor eating area, which received its first fresh coatings in seven years.

He split time between the space and the girls’ gymnasium, where Delia King, a 10-year employee of the City of Philadelphia Murals Arts Program, led her boss Jane Golden, Lisa Nutter, PECO personnel and students in devising 16 pieces that will morph to form a corridor-situated lesson on inclusivity. PECO has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Anti-Defamation League, and the two banded together to adopt Bok as a No Place For Hate School early last year. Active in 160 schools, the initiative has helped institutions since 2005, enabling them to combat bullying and intolerance to foster cultural acceptance.

“My motivation was hostility among races here,” Parker said as an eclectic crowd reached for containers of paint and brushes.

Mural Arts has spent eight years buddying with South Philly facilities, with many endeavors occurring at South Philadelphia High School, 2101 S. Broad St., Golden, its executive director, said. Showing her dexterity, she added several colors to a panel as her employee encouraged the artists, who used numbers on cups and their surfaces to know which hues to choose.

“We are recognizing similarities and celebrating differences,” King said as deep shades of blue and gold met the painters’ papers.

She drew inspiration for her acknowledgment of life at Bok from its Art Deco architecture and proposed to make a mandala. The two-dimensional design figures prominently in sacred art within Buddhist and Hindu religious traditions and aims to endow viewers with a sense of peace. With student input, she took three months to finalize its components, including silhouettes of the assisting pupils. Monday’s work involved welcoming at least 13 tints for the first coating. Nimble fingers devoted nearly three hours to the project, with King to return tomorrow to put on a second coat.

She expects completion by the end of February, and if Monday’s activities seemed colorful, they are destined to pale in comparison to the final work.

“It may have hundreds of colors,” King, who likened the diverse elements of pattern making to the numerous aspects of being human so as to promote compassion no matter one’s makeup, said.

The creation’s dimensions will aim to offer staff, students and visitors irrefutable proof of Bok’s stance on the coexistence of various populations. The piece will feature two 11-foot long walls and two 17-foot wide structures.

“This is a dream come true,” King said of teaming her passion with Bok’s interior.

Her helpers seemed equally enthused. The PECO volunteers chuckled as they made a brief return to childhood through painting by numbers, and the learners, whom co-principal Barbara McCreery selected through their involvement in the Anti-Defamation League group and infatuation with art, cared not one bit about sacrificing a day off.

“The school needed a face-lift,” senior Brandon Chan said.

A resident of the 600 block of Snyder Avenue, he cited deterioration of aesthetics as his involvement’s chief motivator. A member of the Anti-Defamation League force, he also joined Parker in balancing mural making and cafeteria tidying.

“It is great to help,” he said. “Every bit of initiative builds communities.”

 

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